Reprinted from The Nation
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Lincoln Chafee has no taste for neoconservative fantasies, or for the politicians of both major parties who entertain them.
That may not make him the winner of the Democratic presidential contest that the former Rhode Island senator and governor has entered -- Chafee's poll numbers are low, and his campaign has a quirky, do-it-yourself feel that tends to earn him marginal media coverage at best. But it could make him a duly disruptive voice in the Democratic debates that are scheduled to begin in October.
Chafee runs his presidential race with a distinctive personal history, as a former Republican senator and independent governor who only joined the ranks of the Democratic Party in 2013. But he also runs with a unique sense of history, forged by his experience as one of the small circle of current and former senators who the late Robert Byrd referred to as "the immortal 23 Members of this Chamber who stood against popular opinion, stood up to the President of the United States, and threw himself against the forces of war in voting against the resolution to launch an unprecedented military assault on Iraq."
Chafee is skeptical about militarism and enthusiastic about diplomacy. He argues that issues of war and peace must be considered with a long view, that the challenges of the moment have roots that cannot be neglected, and that Americans must understand the damage done by past errors of judgment in order to avoid new errors of judgment. To that end, Chafee refuses to let other candidates -- Republicans or Democrats -- play the margins with regard to the Iraq war or its aftermath.
As a former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Middle East subcommittee who has kept up with the issues, Chafee is ready to explain exactly how today's messes in the region developed -- and exactly which American politicians misread realities on the ground and misdirected US policy.